Review: Moonlight – a stirring spectacle


Moonlight movie poster. (Image source: Facebook)

Moonlight movie poster. (Image source: Facebook)

Moonlight is an American drama movie directed by Barry Jenkins. It tells the life of Chiron, a black American in the culturally diverse city of Miami.


The story is set in three parts of Chiron’s timeline: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Moonlight shows the disturbing struggles which Chiron undergoes throughout his childhood and teenage years leading up to adulthood. He has to deal with bullies in school, an irresponsible mother who takes drugs and a crisis of identity and sexuality.


Bullying is a major theme of the movie. Throughout his childhood and adolescent years, Chiron is constantly hounded by his classmates, and is verbally abused for his sexual orientation. Compounded by life’s troubles, Chiron’s psychological health becomes adversely affected, so much so that he finally exacts revenge.


Parental guidance is exactly what Chiron is bereft of. Chiron does not have a father and his mother is a drug addict. Juan, played brilliantly by Mahershala Ali, who is well known for his roles in House of Cards and Luke Cage, takes up the mantle as a fatherly figure for Chiron during the protagonist’s childhood. Juan teaches him how to swim and provides shelter for him at times. In fact, one of the most poignant moments is when Chiron confronts Juan on his mother’s drug habits. The boy finds out that Juan is the drug dealer himself, leaving Chiron speechless.


The film explores friendship and sexuality through Kevin, Chiron’s closest friend. He seeks comfort in Kevin and they grow intimately attached. They form an unusual yet strong relationship with one another, even up until adulthood.


Alex Hibbert (child Chiron), Ashton Sanders (teen Chiron) and Trevante Rhodes (adult Chiron) excel in their roles in portraying each stage of the protagonist’s bleak and isolated life. Chiron’s awkward, taciturn personality was depicted really well. Juan has an unforgettable line in the movie: “At some point, you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”


Moonlight is an emotionally rich story which is relevant to the world we live in today. It is a remarkable film of self-identity, sexuality, which connects with us deep down in our hearts.


There is no question as to how the movie managed to achieve numerous Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Director. Moonlight is simply a masterpiece and it is probably one of the best movies from over the years.
Moonlight premiered in Irish cinemas on 17th February 2017.

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